While rockets were raining down on southern Israel, the Finance Ministry and Histadrut labor federation quietly resolved their last remaining disputes over employment terms for public sector contract workers. Now that Operation Pillar of Defense is over, an agreement will be signed in the coming days.
The two sides agreed the workers will be covered by contributions into their personal advanced-training funds (kranot hishtalmut) from their first day on the job, but that the contributions will only physically begin flowing into the funds retroactively once they've held the job a full year.
They also agreed that a contract worker who is fired before the first year is up will still receive the funds accrued since starting the job, but those who quit during the first year won't be entitled to any of it. The agreement over advanced-training funds was reached on November 15, the second day of Operation Pillar of Defense.
With that in place the two sides are now ready to sign a full agreement aimed at improving the working conditions of contract workers in the public service. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, Histadrut trade union division head Avi Nissenkorn and other top treasury officials will likely attend the signing ceremony, which had been scheduled for last week but was postponed due to the conflict.
The agreement will go into force retroactively from May 2012 and will cover 60,000 to 80,000 people employed as guards, security personnel and cleaners at government offices, local authorities and agencies budgeted or supported by the state.
Because it is applied retroactively, each contract employee will initially receive a lump-sum of about NIS 3,000 including contributions into their advanced-training funds.
Under the agreement, only a few hundred contract employees those performing jobs identical to those of directly-employed civil servants will be promoted to full employee status. All others will have to make do with improvements to their employment conditions, including a 2.25% raise on January 1 and another 1% raise in July 2013 that all public servants will be receiving.
The contract workers will also be entitled to initial wages of at least NIS 4,500 a month as opposed to the minimum wage paid until now, NIS 4,300 since October. The employer's contribution to advanced-training funds will be 7.5% of salary, with employees contributing 2.5%.
The workers will also receive annual bonuses, the same holiday gifts received by all regular employees, larger pension fund contributions, a clothing allowance and subsidized meals.